52 court poets of Guru Gobind Singh

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Bavanja Kavi, means fifty two poets in Punjabi. It is how the galaxy of poets and scholars who attended on Guru Gobind Singh is popularly designated.

Guru Gobind Singh, prophet and soldier, was an accomplished poet and also a great patron of letters.

According to Sarup Das Bhalla, Mahima Prakash, he sent out Sikhs to different parts of the country to invite and bring to him scholars of repute. His instruction was: "Let them bring with them works pertaining to the fields they specialize in." When they came, "the True Guru bestowed great respect and honour upon them and provided for them without disscrimination."

Although traditionally mentioned to be 52, the number of scholars who came and stayed with the Guru at one time or the other was even larger. Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, mentions 52 poets and Bhai Sukha Singh, Gurbilas, 36 lekhaks (writers or scribes). Besides, there were Bhatts who often recited their own poetical compositions.

Several poets like Pandit Sukhdev, Brind, Alim, Kunvaresh, Kanshi Ram and Bhai Nand Lal Goya, who had earlier been at the Mughal court, came to spend the rest of their lives at the feet of the Guru. These men were assigned by Guru Gobind Singh to the task of rendering of Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian classics into Bhakha written in Gurmukhi script. The work appears to have been taken in hand quite early in his career, probably in 1678 and spread over the next two decades and more, including four very productive years at Paonta Sahib (from 1685 till 1688), until the Guru, foreseeing the impending conflicts that were to engulf Anandpur, relieved the poets, scholars and scribes.

Classics such as Chanakya Niti, Ranch Tantra, Hitopadesa, Upanishads and parts of Mahabharata were translated into Braj and Punjabi and works and manuals on martial arts such as rearing, training and employment of hawks, horses, elephants, camels and dogs were prepared. A few Hindi classics were transliterated into Gurmukhi.

According to Bhai Santokh Singh, author Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, the entire work was collected into a single anthology called Vidya Sar or Vidya Sagar, meaning ocean of knowledge. The poet even mentions the weight of the whole mass of manuscripts nine maunds or approximately 350 kilograms. Whatever the quantity of the material, the entire treasure was lost consequent upon the evacuation of Anandpur in December 1705, most of it in the flooded Sirsa stream. Only small fragments and copies of some of the manuscripts already prepared and carried out of Anandpur by the authors themselves or by others survived.

Name of the poets

The names of poets and scholars which have come down to us through these fragments or through other works such as Sau Sakhi, Mahima Prakash, Gurbilas Dasvin Patshahi, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, Gurpad Prem Prakash and Twarikh Guru Khalsa are listed below:

Mahan Kosh

The list is from Mahan Kosh by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha under the phrase 'Bavanja Kavi' (Fifty two poets.)

1. Uday Rai 2. Ani Rai 3. Amrit Rai 4. Allu 5. Asa Singh 6. Alim 7. Ishavar Dass, 8. Sukh Dev, 9. Sukha Singh, 1 0. Sukhia, 11. Sudama, 12. Sainapat, 13. Shyam 14. Heer, 15. Hussain Ali, 16. Hans Ram, 17. Kallu, 18. Kuveresh, 19. Khan Chand, 20. Gunia, 21. Gurdas, 22. Gopal, 23. Chandan, 24. Chanda, 25. Jamaal, 26. Tehkin, 27. Dharam Singh, 28. Dhanna Singh, 29. Dhayan Singh, 30. Nannoo, 31. Nishchal Dass, 32. Nihal Chand, 33. Nand Singh, 34. Nand Lal, 35. Pindi Dass, 36. Ballabh, 37. Balloo, 38. Bidhi Chand, 39. Bulland, 40. Brikh, 41. Brij Lal, 42. Mathura, 43. Madan Singh, 44. Madan Giri, 45. Malloo, 46. Maan Dass, 47. Mala Singh, 48. Mangal, 49. Ram, 50. Rawal, 51. Roshan Singh, 52. Lakha.

Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth

Kavi Santokh Singh gives this as the list of the Bavanja Kavi's in his magnum opus Suraj Prakash.

Nand Lal Ratee Rai Amrat Rai Attu Asa Singh Balam Iswar Das Sukh Dev Sukha Singh Sukhia Sudama Senapati Shyam Haer Hussain Ali Hans Rao Kallu Kubresh Khan Chand Gania Gurdas Gopal Chandan Chanda Jamaal Dahkan Dharam Singh Dhanna Singh Dhyan Singh Nanu Nihchal Das Nihal Chand Nand Singh Uday Rai Bullo Bhudhi Chand Buland Brikh Braj Lal Mathura Madan Singh Madan Gir Mullo Maan Das Mulla Singh Mangal Ram Raval Roshan Singh Makhan Alam Lakhan


These poets were certainly members of the 52 poets.

  1. Alim/Alam
  2. Allu/Attu
  3. Amrit Rai
  4. Asa Singh
  5. Bidhi Chand
  6. Brij Lal
  7. Brikkha/Brikh
  8. Buland
  9. Chand (Chandan)
  10. Chandra Sain Sainapati
  11. Dhanna Singh
  12. Dharam Singh
  13. Dhyan Singh
  14. Gopal
  15. Gurdas Gunia
  16. Gurdas Singh
  17. Hans Ram/Hans Rao
  18. Hir Bhatt/Haer
  19. Husain Ali
  20. Ishar Das/Iswar Das
  21. Jamal
  22. Kallu
  23. Khan Chand
  24. Lakkhan Rai/Lakhan
  25. Madan Gir(i)
  26. Maan Das Vairagi
  27. Mangal Ram
  28. Mathura Das
  29. Nand Lal Goya
  30. Nand Singh
  31. Nihal Chand
  32. Faqir Nihchal Das
  33. Roshan Singh
  34. Raval
  35. Shyam
  36. Sudama
  37. Sukhia
  38. Sukha Singh
  39. Udai Rai


These members are probably not part of the 52 poets of Guru Gobind Singh.

1. Adha 5. Ani Rai 7. Ballu Bhatt 9. Bhoj Raj 8. Bhagatu 11. Bihari 12. Brahm Bhatt 18. Desu Bhatt 19. Devi Das 23. Girdhari Lal 28. Hari Das 32. Jado Rai 35. Kashi Ram 36. Kesho Bhatt 42. Maddu Singh 38. Kunvaresh 40. Lal Khiali 43. Madhu 44. Mala Singh 45. Mall Bhatt 2. Madan Singh 2. Mullo 2. Maan Das 2. Mulla Singh 2. Mangal Ram 49. Mir Chhabila 50. Mir Mushki 52. Nand Lal, Pandit 53. Nand Ram 55. NanVairagi 56. Narbud Bhatt 59. Phat Mall 60. Pindi Lal 61. Prahilad Rai 2. Ram Das 63. Pandit Raghunath 66. Sharda 71. Sundar 73. Sukhdev 72. Tahikan 73. Tansukh 74. Thakar Ratee Rai Balam Kubresh Dahkan Nanu Bullo Makhan

52 Poets at Paunta Sahib

In 1682 at the invitation of Raja Nahan, Guru Gobind Singh Ji moved to a place called Paonta Sahib and built a fort on the banks of the river Yaumna. So named because "The True Guru came from Anandpur and rested his foot (paonta)." It was subsequently named Paonta Sahib. Guru Ji stayed here for around four years. Whereas martial exercises continued and a few battles were fought including the famous battle of Bhangani, Guru Sahib Ji alos engaged himself in literary pursuits. Several Sanskrit and Persian classics were translated by various poets who had gathered at Paonta and enjoyed the patronage of the great Guru. Sometimes poetic symposiams were held and Guru Sahib Ji distributed awards to the best poets. Most of Guru Ji's compositions were written at Paonta Sahib.

Baba Ajit singh Ji the eldest son of Guru Ji was born to Mata Sundri Ji, at Paonta.

The number of court poets of Guru Gobind Singh Ji has been fixed at 52. Most of them were present at Paonta and helped in rendering the classical literature into Braj Bhasha, especially from Sanskrit.

See also


Ganjnama ♦♦ Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka ♦♦ Bavanja kavi ♦♦ Bhagat Ratanavali ♦♦ Bhera Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Ka ♦♦ Chalitar Joti Samavane ki ♦♦ Chaturbhuj Pothi ♦♦ Haqiqat Rah Muqam Raje Shivnabh Ki ♦♦ Hazarnamah ♦♦ Kabitt Savaiye ♦♦ Karni Namah ♦♦ Nasihat Namah ♦♦ Amarnama ♦♦ Ani Rai ♦♦ Araz Ul Alfaz ♦♦ Baba Mohan Valian Pothian ♦♦ Bala Janam Sakhi ♦♦ Panj Sau Sakhi ♦♦ Pothi ♦♦ Pothi Sachkhand ♦♦ Prem Abodh Pothi ♦♦ Prem Sumarag ♦♦ Sukhmam Sahansarnama